Aidan Walsh close to Commonwealth dream in Birmingham

·4 min read
Aidan Walsh close to Commonwealth dream in Birmingham

Aidan Walsh leaves beaten opponents complaining he is a nightmare but now sits on the verge of an iconic Commonwealth Games dream alongside sister Michaela.

Both Walsh siblings left the Gold Coast with boxing silver in 2018 but now have the chance to upgrade to gold as two of Northern Ireland’s super six through to Sunday’s finals.

Olympic bronze medallist Aidan, 25, was at his evasive best in a points victory over Wales’ European runner-up Garan Croft with Mozambique’s Tiago Osorio Muxanga now the only light middleweight who can deny him the title.

While featherweight Michaela, 29, is hoping it will be third time lucky against Nigeria’s Elizabeth Oshoba in Birmingham - after consecutive Commonwealth silvers - following a routine win over South Africa’s Phiwokuhle Sbusisiwe Mnguni.

Aidan, who has barely fought since breaking his ankle celebrating his quarter-final triumph in Tokyo, said: “I just want to enjoy every minute of this journey. The results we are having are incredible for the size of the country.

“It’s more than great [to compete with Michaela] because you get to travel the world with someone you love - I’d be greedy if I asked for anything else!”

This summer, Team Northern Ireland, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will compromise of over 100 athletes, all vying for medal success.

Michaela, who lost at the first hurdle at last year’s Olympics, said: “Where we are now is a phenomenal achievement, but we want to go one step further.

“Regardless of the outcome I’m so proud to be in the Commonwealth Games final with my brother, twice in three attempts, not many other people can say that.”

Carly McNaul also has unfinished business at the friendly Games after taking silver four years ago and is relishing a huge match-up with India’s world champion Zareen Nikhat on Sunday.

McNaul took control from the off against Uganda’s Teddy Nakimuli to ensure she will at least match her efforts in Australia but is going through the gears in an attempt to land her golden moment.

She said: “I’m buzzing, all my hard work is finally paying off and I’m saving my best performance until last.

“I’ve dreamed of this fight from the day I knew she was coming, she’s not world champion for no reason but I’m going to fight and I’m going to beat her.”

World champion and lightweight favourite Amy Broadhurst kept the momentum rolling to book a showdown against England’s Gemma Richardson but revealed the force of the home crowd is not a concern.

“It will only make me want to prove them all wrong and I’ll have a big crowd with me too,” said Broadhurst, who comfortably outpointed Nigerian Cynthia Ogunsemilore in her semi-final.

“She will be very tough; I’ve known her a long time but if I box to my best ability that should be enough.

“This year has been amazing and to win the gold medal would be unbelievable. There is a bit of pressure but some of the favourites have been beaten so I don’t listen to that.”

Eireann Nugent vowed to claim gold at Victoria 2026 after her fairytale return to boxing ended with a bronze medal.

Prior to these Games, Nugent’s last fight of note was back in 2011 against Kellie Harrington but after seeing her claim Olympic gold last year she decided to lace up the gloves once again.

“It’s been a rollercoaster experience coming back and making it this far. I set my goal to make it onto the podium and I have done that,” she said.

“I may not be going home with the colour I wanted but I have still achieved my goal and I’m proud of that and my family will be proud.

“No one has ever come back after 11 years out at 30 years of age jumping into the deep end of an elite category like this, bouncing in with the best and walking home with a medal.”

Dylan Eagleson, 19, landed in the Commonwealth final with a split decision over Scotland’s Matty McHale but will not be content with just a silver lining up against Ghana’s Abraham Mensah.

He explained: “I’ll feel great when I lift the gold. I’m only here for that and nothing else, I’m getting better each day.”

Exciting flyweight prospect Jude Gallagher will fight Ghana’s Joseph Commey for gold after Canadian opponent Keoma-Ali Al-Ahmadieh withdrew before their scheduled semi-final.

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